The tangible material culture surrounds every single thing we do. As a lab archaeologist, my main goal is to describe each object that comes through my lab and make that description available for study. Aspects of things we would often take for granted get described, categorized, organized. In a description, I attempt to include information that may help current and future archaeologists to study the object or a collection or even groups of collections. The information helps us to identify dates of sites, areas of activities, socioeconomics of a people and available technologies. In the future, hopefully it will help to identify aspects that I have never even dreamed.
To achieve this goal better, I was set to the task of updating our cataloging and creating a relational access database. The database not only stores our information, but allows us to analyze and study it. For the first time, I began to use a system that I had a major hand in creating. I learned that creating the method of identification and description of the details & attributes of everything anyone has ever made or altered through time is really difficult and sometimes a little messy. There is no perfect system of cataloging.
But while all of these artifacts are still located in a collection together and before time has taken even more of a toll on them, the data helps us preserve our history.
Our relational database now connects geographical space with artifact details as well as dates and other information that help us determine information about a site. Each project database can be updated in a larger database that includes other projects so that artifact information will be comparable across the county. The information in each project can also connect directly to the mapping system in GIS.
It is an ongoing process. We constantly make the system better and link to more programs. Today, as most days, I am working on and in our relational database.
~the CART Lab